Anti-Social Media Bill: Senator Justifies Plagiarism

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The sponsor of the Protection from Internet Falsehoods and Manipulations Bill, popularly referred to as anti-social media bill, Senator Mohammed Sani Musa, has called on Nigerians to ignore what he described as attempts by mischief makers to rubbish the legislation on grounds of plagiarism.

Musa, who represents Niger East Senatorial District, in a statement issued on Sunday by his Media Office said there is nothing wrong with the similarity in the bill he sponsored and Singapore’s legislation on the same matter.

The statement reads, “Our attention has been drawn to the similarity between the draft Bill of Senator Mohammed Sani Musa – ‘Protection from Internet Falsehoods and Manipulations and for other related matters’ with the Singaporean Statute on the same subject. It is preposterous that this is said to be an instance of plagiarism. ALL OVER THE WORLD LEGISLATIONS IN OTHER JURISDICTIONS DO INFLUENCE THE FORM AND SUBSTANCE IN OTHER JURISDICTIONS PARTICULARLY WHERE THE SUBJECT MATTER OF LEGISLATION IS COMMON AND PRESENT THE SAME OR SIMILAR CHALLENGES OF REGULATION. Examples of these are bound in Company Law Reforms, Trade Mark Legislations and Securities Regulations across the globe.

“The problems and challenges of regulating internet activities cuts across jurisdictions. It is therefore INEVITABLE THAT LESSONS BE DRAWN FROM OTHER JURISDICTIONS IN FASHIONING OUT WORKABLE SOLUTIONS IN OUR OWN COUNTRY. Legislations across the globe are PUBLIC DOCUMENTS and National LEGISLATIONS DO NOT CLAIM RIGHT OVER THEM  AS TO FORM THE BASIS FOR PLAGIARISM OVER THEM their effectiveness being limited to the territorial jurisdiction of each sovereignty.

“The general public are therefore kindly advised not to heed to the jejune attempt by uninformed mischiefmakers going round distorting what is clearly a no issue. laws are universal templates adopted and domesticated to fit pecularities.

“Beyond the rhetoric, the internet space in Nigeria has become corrosive. Information whether true or false spreads like wildfire. We may have the capacity to regulate the internet space but it is extremely difficult to regulate the effect of hate speech distributed through online platforms.

“The bill imposes on service providers stiff penalties if their platform is used to disseminate falsehood that can potentially lead to social strife- and this is the global practice. It is no coincidence that countries with regulated internet report relatively lower cases of fake news and hate speech. Like Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook opined, ‘Internet companies should be accountable for enforcing standards on harmful content. It’s impossible to remove all harmful content from the Internet, but when people use dozens of different sharing services — all with their own policies and processes — we need a more standardized approach’. And this without holding brief for the senator is the crux of the move to sanitize the corrosive internet space in Nigeria. We may fear and fret for the manipulation of such laws by politicians and government officials but it’s not enough to negate the overall gains of these regulations.

“The concern should not be on the abuses of this law but the inherent gains it comes with – a free internet that guarantees national security (instructions on bomb-making, illegal drug production, terrorist activities); protection of minors (abusive forms of marketing, violence, pornography); protection of human dignity (incitement to racial hatred or racial discrimination); economic security (fraud, instructions on pirating credit cards); information security (malicious hacking); protection of privacy (unauthorized communication of personal data, electronic harassment); protection of reputation (libel, unlawful comparative advertising); intellectual property (unauthorized distribution of copyrighted works, software or music etc as propounded by The European Union paper on “Illegal and harmful content on the Internet”.

“The lawmaker should be accompanied on this very important voyage that guarantees sanity and protection of rights and sensitivities on the internet and not harangued into throwing away this beautiful baby with the bathwater, nothing enhances life than sanity of all any sort.”

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